When working on a basement, it seems that there are endless tasks to be performed. There are times during basement work when a soffit will be needed. Soffits should be built if the existing ductwork should be boxed in.
It is also necessary when there are plans to install interior lighting. Basement soffit framing isn’t terribly difficult, and can be performed in relatively short time by the homeowner.
When Soffits are Needed in the Basement
Many basements have plumbing and ductwork that has been mounted on the ceiling. These items will be visible along a basement wall. When refinishing a basement, or getting it ready for regular use, many homeowners prefer to box the pipes and ducts in to make it more attractive.
After boxing them, the assembly is then drywall to help it blend in with the rest of the ceiling and wall. This is the standard way to conceal them and is very effective. These places where the plumbing and ductwork have been concealed are called soffits. Basement soffit framing is a basic job at most basements will need at one time or another.
Framing Basement Soffits
The first step in framing basement soffits is to take measurements from the ceiling down to the floor. This will tell you where the lowest duct or pipe is in the basement. The lowest point will tell you exactly how low the soffit will have to be built.
The best idea is to mark a place on the wall that is 2 inches below the lowest point. That extra 2 inches will allow an area for the framework and the drywall. A 2 x 4 nailing strip can then be nailed on, being positioned by the Mark that was made.
The Mark will be at the bottom of the nailing strip. Then, you can put another line at the bottom of the floor joists. This one will have a clearance of 21/2 inches.
Soffits are not really structural items, so they’re framing is fairly simple. Soffits can be framed can use them only 2″ x 2″ s. Just like when done wall framing, to 2″ x 2″ parallel plates should be used, connecting them vertically with stud members.
A top plate should be secured to the joists in the floor. A nail can then be stuck into a 2″ x 2″ studs. This will be done on the top plate at both ends. The next step in basement soffit framing is to take the bottom plate and nail it to the two studs. This will create the basic wall structure.
When those steps are completed, it can be installed on 16” centers, with studs measuring 2″ x 2″ along the plates’ entire length. In many cases of basement soffit framing, this same frame structure will have to be rebuilt on the other side of the ductwork as well.
Once the second soffit has been completed, most of the work is completed. A few 2″ x 2″ stat pieces that will work as cross members can be installed on the wall sections in between the soffits. When doing this, it is important to keep the pieces straight. Using a level and/or a chalk line before these items are installed will help ensure that the basement soffit walls will be straight.
Photo by Paul Cutler/CreativeCommons